I’ve been reasonably lucky with my health over the years, suffering only the usual common ailments. I was slightly asthmatic as a child but this seemed to disappear when I left school going straight into military service. They say an army marches on its stomach… only partly true but the military did look after my health with regular check ups. I think the only medical emergency I had in my 29 years in that wonderful organisation was being knocked out in boxing training aged 16! When I left the military in 2001, I was fortunate to benefit from free health insurance at my new employers. However, I was now at an age where there was a bit of ‘wear and tear’ and bits were starting to fall off. I had a very pleasant experience fixing a tennis elbow problem in 2002 and then shortly after a 6 week recovery from pneumonia in 2003. The health insurance was handy with the former but the latter was handled by my GP (…antibiotics and bed!).
Boom! Neuroendocrine Cancer in 2010. The health insurance was suddenly extremely useful as I was able to get all my hospital ‘in-patient’ stuff in nice en-suite rooms. I’m not saying I had an easy time but the surroundings and resources probably made it more bearable. The ‘out-patient’ visits were always pleasant with nice tea and newspapers to pass the time away in the inevitable wait for the consultant meeting (even in private hospitals/clinics, appointments always seem to be later than published). I also had my Lanreotide injections done at home for 3 years which was extremely helpful.
As you can see from above, my experience with NHS hospitals is very limited. However, from 1 Jan this year (2015), I no longer have health insurance and am now a fully fledged member of the NHS club going forward!
Should I be worried? Not a day goes by without a headline (or several) claiming the NHS is in crisis, bankrupt, almost privatised, doomed……. I’m sure you see those headlines too? So with some trepidation, I set off for my first Outpatient appointment yesterday at NHS Bournemouth Hospital, incidentally only 7 days after I would have been seen (by the same Consultant) using my health insurance policy if it was still in force. I was meeting a Surgeon who was beginning the assessment of a ‘lesion’ in the upper left pole of my thyroid which was recently picked up on Octreotide and CT scans. I reported to reception, was dealt with and pointed in the direction of the Consultant rooms. I noticed the area had a nice looking Cafe and a large TV showing Sky News (heaven!). There was a 20 minute overrun of my designated appointment time but that is less than I normally found in private establishments! Expecting just an exploratory chat, I was surprised to have to undergo a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsy and am now waiting on the results. In addition, he will see me in 3 months and suggested this is nothing to worry about. I’m sure he’s right but the biopsy result will still be anticipated.
I didn’t detect any sign of NHS chaos in this hospital, everything went very smoothly indeed – a very pleasant experience. Good start to my new treatment regime. Well done NHS! Now to sort out who will be doing my Lanreotide injection ………
Edit: Fast forward to 2020 and the NHS is in the news again with Coronavirus COVID-19
The biggest test for the NHS since creation in 1948 is currently underway due to COVID-19. Stay safe all. In case you missed it, my self isolation diary is here.
Thanks for reading